Found July 22, 2012 on Dugout Central:
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Today, Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera clubbed his 299th and 300th home runs of his career, which is surprisingly already in his tenth season. In doing so, Cabrera became one of just 13 players to hit his 300th home run before his 30th birthday, joining Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Matthews, Albert Pujols, Andruw Jones, Hank Aaron, Mel Ott, Juan Gonzalez, Frank Robinson, and Adam Dunn.

Of those gentlemen, only Pujols hit more than Cabrera’s 373 doubles.

This raises a question: where will Miguel Cabrera end up in his career? In what elite company will his numbers put him?

The company he’s in right now is pretty elite, no question about it – though it also includes a few gentlemen who went downhill fast after 30 (Jones, Dunn, to a lesser extent, Junior).

And boy, have people been clamoring that Cabrera will end up in that category. For years they’ve been doing that. In 2007, ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr. wrote an article about Cabrera’s apparently weight gain and how this could affect his future salary prospects. The Tigers were so concerned about his weight after trading for him that they only signed him to a  8-year, 152.3 million dollar deal – and Cabrera was so fat and out of shape that he has only hit .323/.401/.571 for a 157 OPS+ since signing the pact.

Of course, Cabrera isn’t 25 anymore. He’s 29; next April, he’ll hit the dreaded 3-0. Age carries with it changes in metabolism and an inherent downtrend in performance.

There’s also the fact that Cabrera has had his share of off-the-field incidents, almost all of which involve copious quantities of alcohol.

But through all that, he just keeps on hitting. DUI during spring training? No problem, he just wins a batting title and OBP title.

I’m going to put Miggy’s final career home run tally at 530, understanding that he’s unlikely to keep mashing exactly the same way through his 40’s unless he gives Jose Canseco a ring. That’ll put him in elite company as is, but once you factor in the fact that he’s well on his way to becoming just the fifth player to amass 700 doubles, after only Tris Speaker, Pete Rose, Stan Musial and Ty Cobb.

This would probably leave him safely among the top 20 pure hitters of all-time, with his defense bumping him down a notch or several.

Readers of Dugout Central, what do you think? Will Cabrera make it to that inner circle of Hall of Famers, or party his way into an early retirement?

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